Tour to offer a view of Mt. Lebanon history

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A new tour will provide a firsthand look at the history of various sections of Mt. Lebanon.

Neighborhoods and the National Register, offered by the Mt. Lebanon Historical Society, is scheduled for June 26, focusing on the backgrounds and architectural highlights of Virginia Manor, Mission Hills and Beverly Heights.

Patricia Calvelo, a longtime historical society member who has served on the Mt. Lebanon Preservation Board, will serve as guide, sharing her deep knowledge of the area’s past.

Mt. Lebanon’s transition from a rural environment came about when trolley lines began to connect Pittsburgh to the South Hills, leading to the separation of the municipality from Scott for incorporation in 1912.

A decade later, another form of transportation further strengthened the connection between city and suburb, helping lead to the creation of some of Mt. Lebanon’s subdivisions.

“Mission Hills is important because it was one of the first communities planned for automobiles,” said Ms. Calvelo. “Once the Liberty Tunnels (1924) and Liberty Bridge (1928) opened, development really picked up out here.”

In 1929, construction started on what became Virginia Manor, spearheaded by future Gov. James Duff.

Beverly Heights also was “among the first neighborhoods built in the United States that were designed specifically with the automobile in mind,” according to a Mt. Lebanon Cultural Resource Survey conducted in 2007.

Such considerations are part of the impetus for having certain sections of the municipality placed on the National Register of Historic Places, the official list of the nation’s historic places deemed worthy of preservation. Ms. Calvelo said receiving the designation is targeted for this summer.

“It makes people aware that this is a special place, and if you’re going to do something with your home, think about it,” she said, explaining that the measure is not intended to be restrictive for property owners.

A 42-year Mt. Lebanon resident, Ms. Calvelo has served as a docent at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

“I thought I could do something like that in Mt. Lebanon,” she said. “I like telling people how special it is.”

Neighborhoods and the National Register is a bus tour that starts at two times, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., departing from the Mt. Lebanon History Center, 200 Lebanon Ave. Tickets must be purchased by June 10. For more information, contact Gwyn Cready at cready@gmail.com or visit www.hsmtl.org.

The historical society is offering two other tours in 2014:

■ Saints & Stained Glass explores two of Mt. Lebanon’s most historic churches, St. Bernard’s and Mt. Lebanon United Presbyterian. The 90-minute tour covers the history of both churches, with a focus on the stained-glass windows, starting at 6 p.m. July 22 in front of St. Bernard’s.

■ Commerce & Architecture, examining the architecture and history of Mt. Lebanon’s Washington Road commercial district. The walking tour begins at 10 a.m. Aug. 16 at the history center.

Harry Funk, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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